Chimney Leak Checklist

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Is your chimney leaking? Are you experiencing water marks on the ceiling or walls near your chimney? Is there water appearing in the firebox? Similarly, are you experiencing cracks on the exterior of the chimney which seem to keep getting bigger or are bricks actually flaking off from your chimney? Water is the common thread between all of these problems (for the most part) and following this checklist should help you to be able to arrest water infiltration or prevent further damage.

Chimney Cap
Installing a stainless steel chimney cap is inexpensive and generally maintenance free.

1. Do you have a chimney cap?

If water is able to fall freely down your chimney, installing a chimney cap will help you out. By preventing water from entering your firebox or dripping down the walls of the chimney’s flue, you will be able to lessen the amount of creosote that will build up and prevent damage inside the flue system from the water. Install a stainless steel chimney cap. These will not rust and resist deterioration over time. Rust stains from painted black chimney caps or other metals which are able to rust are a huge issue for homeowners.

Damaged Chimney Crown
This cracked chimney crown may allow water to enter the chimney.

2. Is  your chimney crown cracked or damaged?

If so, this may be another point of entry for water into your home. Call in a chimney professional for evaluation. If the crown can be repaired by resurfacing, this is a repair you can do yourself using a crown resurfacing product. If the chimney crown is severely damaged structurally, you will need to have it replaced. Whether you are replacing or resurfacing your crown, applying a water repellent over the entire crown will help to extend the life of the repair and prevent damage from happening in the future.

3. Are there any cracks or missing mortar joints in the brick on the chimney?

Brick Damage

 

If your brick is damaged, water may be able to enter your home. If there are missing mortar joints or cracks in the brick itself, these are all points of entry for water. These cracks need to be sealed using a sealant so that there is a physical barrier between water and the crack. There are various types of sealants for repairing cracks in brick, but I recommend a silicone sealant. If you have missing mortar joints, these will need to be put back in through a process called tuckpointing. If you have very extensive damage to your chimney, you may want to have a chimney professional come out to evaluate your chimney. If the damage is bad enough, the chimney may need to be partially or completely rebuilt.

4. Is your flashing rusted or pulling apart from the home?

Flashing Problems

 

If your flashing is not in good condition, this is another point of entry for water that homeowners often overlook. Rusted flashing must be replaced, either by a professional or by yourself if you have the skills to do so. Some flashing can be repaired using a flashing repair system, but the most lasting repair is going to be replacing it. A flashing repair system is good for when the flashing seems to be intact and has no visible damage. These systems seal the flashing, barring water from entering.

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Wood, …the Green option for heating your Home

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Wood Burning Stove
Wood burning stoves such as this old one add character and charm to any room.“The same amount of Carbon Dioxide is released when the wood is burned,  as would happen if the tree were … left in the forest to —>decompose”.

The United States as a whole has, as of late, pushed for increased awareness of reducing our dependence on non-renewable resources such as coal and     natural gas and turning to “green” options.  

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 7.02.34 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 7.06.04 PMAn affordable option that many folks have been turning to in response to this cry to make our country more sustainable is burning woodOne concern is that wood, when not properly combusted, can contribute to particulate matter in the air which is considered a pollutant.

A very hot fire that burns the wood completely reduces the risk of particulate matter entering into the air as a by-product of burning wood.

This being said, the worry concerning particulate matter is a small price to pay considering the amount of carbon dioxide produced when gas or coal is burned.aspect of burning wood that people like is its affordability. Turning the furnace down and instead burning wood for at least part of the time during the winter will save you money and make your household a more sustainable household.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 7.01.34 PM

Wood is renewable. Although removing trees at a greater rate than they are replanted has been a concern in the past, there are forests planted specifically for harvesting as lumber or firewood.

Coal and natural gas are non-renewable and will eventually run out, increasing in price as the supply diminishes.Another reason to use wood to heat your home is that not only is it renewable, but supporting the firewood industry causes more

Grate
Using a fireplace grate helps your wood to burn more thoroughly by allowing air to enter the fire from the bottom.carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) absorbing trees to be planted. When they are burned as firewood and products of combustion are released into the environment, the same amount of carbon dioxide that they absorbed during their lifetime is released.

 

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This makes burning wood a neutral process in terms of carbon dioxide

 

As opposed to burning coal which releases not only carbon dioxide but other pollutants and greenhouse gases in addition.

Coal is largely made of carbon and burning it, like burning natural gas, is taking carbon dioxide that was buried deep in the earth for millions of years and causing it to contaminate the atmosphere.

 . . . .”The same amount of Carbon Dioxide is released when the wood is burned,  as would happen if the tree were … left in the forest to decompose”.

 

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How to Remove Rust Stains from Masonry Chimneys

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

If you installed a cap on your chimney that was not stainless steel there is a likelihood that you have rust stains on on the top of your chimney which are very unsightly.

Removing rust stains and removing the source of the rust are both very important because if the rust is not remove it can deteriorate your brick over time. Removing rust is not difficult but you also want to avoid staining the brick with a strong acid or even eating away at the face of the brick. If the stain is at the very top of your chimney and your chimney is very tall you may want to call a professional to clean it.

Your safety is the number one priority in an endeavor such as this and if you do not have a ladder that will safely reach the top of your chimney or you don’t have any safe way to access it then you should have the stains professionally removed. Do not power wash your brick to get rust stains off, especially if the brick is old or crumbling because that will not only further destroy your brick but more than likely “will not” remove all of the stains.

brick-mortar-cleaner__02200.1413907696.600.600 SaverSystems “Brick and Mortar Cleaner” can be purchased at —-> www.FireplaceAndChimneySupply.com

images-1images

                                                                                             Before       &          After    

There are products on the market that are specifically designed to remove rust stains. The SaverSystems  . . . “Brick and Mortar Cleaner” is a Professional grade cleaner that removes rust, mildew, algae, dirt, mortar splatter, and creosote stains. This product can also be used for removing rust stains from concrete. It is safer to use than muriatic acid which was once recommended for cleaning rust off of masonry surfaces.

Muriatic acid can burn the and could eat away at the face of the brick as well. While protective eye wear and gloves should be worn whenever handling any masonry cleaners.

SaverSystems  . . . “Brick and Mortar Cleaner”product is safer than muriatic acid and will help in rust stain removal.

If the rust stains were caused by a chimney cap that was painted black or was of poor quality metal it may have caused this rusting .scan0005 (2)

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                                                      Before       &          After  

stainless steel chimney cap is key to preventing rust stains from occurring again. Remove the offending cap immediately and replace it with a top mounted stainless steel cap, which sits on top of the flue, or a top sealing damper and chimney cap combination, like the LockTop system which not only keeps birds and other critters out of the chimney it also seals off the chimney at the top forming an air tight seal when the damper is closed to keep warm air in the home and cold air out when the chimney is not in use.

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Wood Burning Basics

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Spark guards can be ornate, like the one pictured, or plain but are a great wood burning tool because they contain sparks.
Spark guards can be ornate, like the one pictured, or plain but are a great wood burning tool because they contain sparks.

The burning of wood is a huge biomass burning industry used to spin turbines, cook food, and heat the homes of people like you. Correctly burning wood is a skill that can save you a house full of smoke or any number of other problems. The first step is to make sure that the fireplace or wood burning stove is clear of any debris from a previous fire.

Scooping any excessive ash down an ash dump or cleaning out a wood burning stove is the first step, although an inch or two of ash can actually help the new fire burn more successfully. Keep any grates in the fireplace clean to prevent smoking problems. It can take ash up to an entire day to cool completely.

I recommend starting the fire using some paper and kindling and adding in seasoned wood. I do not recommend burning wood that is still green or wet because it will cause a lot of smoke. Seasoned wood burns the best. Open the damper half way, not all the way. VL Small Safety Grate 26432This gives the fire an air source while still venting any smoke. Place the paper underneath your grate and kindling wood on top of the grate after the fire is lit. If your fireplace is prone to smoking problems or has a poor draft caused by other factors, carefully (using gloves) holding lit paper up into the flue system to warm it can help increase the chimney’s draft. Stack your seasoned logs on top of the kindling strategically to allow the kindling to burn fully. Open the damper completely once you have the fire really going.

As time goes on it may need adjustment or additional wood to be added to keep it burning. Using fireplace tools can help immensely

Wood burning tools such as these not only add to the look of your hearth, they also come in handy when a hot long needs to be handled.
Wood burning tools such as these not only add to the look of your hearth, they also come in handy when a hot long needs to be handled.

in getting a proper burn. A fire poker or a pair of tongs are very helpful for when this needs to happen. If a log is smothering kindling or it just needs stirred up a bit these tools are great to have. Scooping ash out of a wood burning stove can be cumbersome so purchasing a high powered ash vacuum can save you the trouble and the mess. An important thing to remember is to not leave a fire in a fireplace or a wood burning stove unattended for a very long time. A fire that is nicely contained in your firebox can wreak havoc should it start to burn up in the flue system. Paying attention to the fire the entire time it is lit is one way to ensure that if this should happen, damage is minimized.
100_1408Close the damper once the fire has completely stopped burning and smoking. Keeping the damper closed keeps the air you paid to heat from floating up through the chimney and heating the whole neighborhood. Fireproof mesh/ Screens is a great idea to place in front of the fireplace to prevent embers from hopping out and burning family members or lighting a fire. There are also fireproof rugs available for purchase to be placed in front of the firebox.

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Creosote Removal Products Guide

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Creosote is a major issue for any household or commercial wood burning fireplace. Creosote seeps into mortar joints and small cracks in the flue system as it turns from a gas to a liquid to a solid and corrodes away the inside of your flue. During very humid times of the year, creosote in the chimney can start to stink up a home as well. This being said, it is recommended to have the chimney swept when there is 1/8″ of creosote buildup. To prevent corrosion of your flue system and odor problems from occurring, you will want your chimney sweep to be able to remove as much creosote as possible and as completely as possible. By utilizing creosote removal products a month or so prior to calling out your chimney sweep you will increase the effectiveness of the sweep.

With so many creosote removal products on the market, it may be difficult to pick just one. With similar pricing and technical specifications, one way to decide what type of creosote removal product to purchase would be to research application methods and choose one that you feel comfortable with. There are powdered creosote modifiers and liquids, removers that you apply up in the flue system itself and removers that you apply directly to logs in the fireplace. You need to make sure that the type of creosote removal product you purchase is intended for use in the type of fireplace that you have, whether it be a wood burning fireplace or a fireplace using gas logs, and that you are comfortable applying the product.

If you have a wood burning fireplace, you have many creosote removal products to choose from. A few that I would recommend would be Cre-Away or Anti-Creo-Sote (ACS) by

Cre-Away is a powder creosote removal product. Creosote is corrosive when left untreated in the flue system.
Cre-Away is a powder creosote removal product. Creosote is corrosive when left untreated in the flue system.

ChimneySaver. ChimneySaver has an entire line of products formulated specifically for use on chimneys from heavy duty water repellents intended for use above the roofline where the elements hit the hardest to flexible crown repair products to repair small cracks that often appear over time at the top of the chimney. Cre-Away Creosote Modifier is one of their products that is actually a powder. It is effective on all types of creosote (glazed or loose) and actively reduces the odor that creosote in the chimney produces by neutralizing. This neutralizing aspect reduces the corrosiveness of the creosote while its still resting in the flue and allows your chimney sweep to remove creosote more completely and more easily. You apply this product directly p into the flue system by squeezing and aiming up the chimney. The application of the product directly into the chimney allows for it to modify glazed on creosote, which is normally very difficult to impossible to remove, and chemically alters is to a more sweepable form. Cre-Away Creosote Modifier is sold in 1 lb. bottles and it is recommended to use 1/3 of a bottle on each fire that you burn prior to having your sweep come.

12 or so squirts in the firebox, on the logs, and up in the flue is just enough for a moderate amount of creosote. Use up to 60 for severe cases.
12 or so squirts in the firebox, on the logs, and up in the flue is just enough for a moderate amount of creosote. Use up to 60 for severe cases.
A light mist with the creosote removal product will remove all the build-up from your gas logs
A light mist with the creosote removal product will remove all the build-up from your gas logs

A different product by ChimneySaver is Anti-Creo-Soot, or ACS. This spray bottle is effective on creosote because it is a liquid manganese catalyst, catalyzing the breakdown of creosote. You can use the product on almost anything: boilers, fireplaces, pellet stoves, furnaces, wood or even coal burning stoves. Due to its chemical makeup, it actually insulates appliances, improving heat transfer. The product is safe for use on catalytic combustors so long as it is put into bypass mode before treatment and for an hour afterwards. You can purchase this product in 32 oz. spray bottles or 1 gallon refill containers and should use about twelve sprays on the inside of the firebox, on the wood, and up in the flue in order for it to be effective. For severe creosote build up, up to 60 squirts can be used daily for the first seven days of use. ACS also comes in a powder and is applied directly to the flue instead of the fire. By using ACS Powder after every cleaning you will reduce the acidity and odor of creosote. Similar to Cre-Away Creosote Modifier, use about 1/3 of the bottle with each use.

If you have gas logs in your fireplace I would recommend using the ACS Gas Log Carbon and Soot Remover. It disperses carbon and soot deposits that have accumulated on the gas logs with only a light mist. This product does not damage the logs. You mist the logs when they are burning hot. I wouldn’t recommend using this product on light colored logs due to the fact that the manganese catalyst may cause yellowing to occur.

Creosote removal products such as these aren’t going to make the creosote in your chimney vanish, but it will enable the chimney sweep who comes out to remove the creosote to remove it more completely.

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Chimney Liner Installation Cost

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
This type of chimney liner is used when clay tiles fail. Generally used to vent solid fuel burning appliances and fireplaces
This type of chimney liner is used when clay tiles fail. Generally used to vent solid fuel burning appliances and fireplaces

Customers continually are shocked at the cost of relining a chimney. Chimney liner cost can be surprising. There are a variety of factors that play into how much a chimney reline with installation costs, including your area of the country, but on average the cost to have your chimney professionally relined runs anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000. Lets explore the option of purchasing a chimney liner kit and installing it yourself.

 

The hardest part about relining your chimney is fitting the chimney liner. You need to properly size the liner in order for the chimney to draft properly. Remember that there will be an extra inch or so around the liner due to the insulation. Chimney liner insulation is extremely important and actually helps to reduce creosote build up by keeping the chimney liner warmer. Chimney liner kits vary in price based on the diameter and length of the liner, but a basic, UL listed 6″ diameter 20′ long chimney liner kit, complete with connector pipe, tee end cap, and top kit can be anywhere from $400 – $600. Chimney liner insulation kits, complete with all of the supplies needed to properly wrap your chimney liner pipe in insulation, can run between $200-300.

images[1]As you can see you are saving yourself major expenses incurred from installation fees, but with that you are taking in some risk as well. Lining your own chimney can be very dangerous. You need to be absolutely sure you have enough manpower to handle this large, sometimes heavy liner or else accidents can happen

Wood Stove Installation carbon Neutral

https://youtu.be/F055jMMxlYQ

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Chimney Flue Caps 101

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Regardless of whether you use your chimney or not, every chimney needs a cap. A chimney cap does several things. It keeps animals like racoons, bats, and squirrels from entering the chimney. It also prevents rain and other moisture from dripping down into the chimney flue or seeping into the insulation between a metal flue liner and the masonry surface. A chimney cap can prevent heat loss in the winter and loss of your air conditioning in the summer months and will protect your chimney’s crown from the elements, including ice, extending its life and decreasing the risk and likelihood of cracks.

A couple of things you should be aware of when installing a chimney cap:

  • Improper design or installation may restrict the draft of your chimney. This will increase the likelihood of smoking problems down the road. Make sure that the chimney cap you are installing is compatible with your chimney type and that it is installed according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Often times, the screen on your cap can become clogged with chimney byproducts, further decreasing the draft of the chimney. After installing a chimney cap, check it at least once a year to make sure the screen is not clogged.
  • In high winds, caps can potentially blow off, so make sure that the cap is fastened securely to the chimney.

Prevent Water Leaks With a Chimney Cap

If water is leaking inside your flue, it can actually increase your allergies. A damp, warm environment are the perfect conditions for mold and mildew growth. Also, rain will rust away your metal flue or the grate that your gas logs rest on. If you’ve ever had a leaking chimney, you may have noticed an odor coming out of your chimney. During the warm summer months, creosote inside the chimney can evaporate with the water leaking into the chimney, creating a foul odor. By capping your chimney, you can prevent water from entering your chimney, thereby reducing or eliminating any odor.

Stainless Steel Caps

There are many different types of Stainless Steel chimney caps available. Standard caps usually come with screens to keep animals out. Stainless steel is the most common cap material, as it doesn’t rust and discolor the brick or stucco on your home. It also hold up to the elements better. Stay away from painted metal chimney caps, as runoff can stain the chimney.

Galvanized Chimney Caps

Galvanized chimney caps are frequently used because they’re inexpensive, but the downside to these is that they have to be constantly repainted. If you do choose this type of cap though, it’s best not to use it with gas logs. The exhaust from the logs, which is very caustic, will eat right through the cap in a few years.

Copper Chimney Caps

If you use gas logs, you may consider using a copper chimney cap. This type of cap can withstand the corrosive exhaust from the gas logs. Copper chimney caps are the most expensive type and while they look very nice when first installed, after a few storms they begin to look like an old penny.

Draft Increasing Caps

Another type of chimney cap is designed for draft increase. If you have draft problems in your chimney, you may want to consider this type of cap. They are designed to increase the draw in your chimney, preventing smoke from entering your home. Stay away from mechanical caps which rely on windvanes or turbines. The creosote and smoke coming out of your fireplace will clog up the mechanics and quickly gum up the workings of these caps.

Caps With Internal Damper Systems

Some caps come equipped with internal damper systems. While more pricey, these types of caps can be great at preventing energy loss in your home. Lock-top and Seal-tight are two great manufacturers of this type of cap. These caps are retrofitted to the chimney and controlled by an inside mechanism. When closed, you can rest assured that none of your energy is floating up and out of your chimney.

Precautions

If you are installing a cap on your own, be sure to take these precautions under consideration. Wearing gloves is essential, seeing that sheet metal may have sharp edges. Be sure not to use silicone sealants on metal flues. The metal will get hot enough to ruin the sealant. If the cap you purchase comes with screws or adhesives, use them! This will protect you from possible fires and will better ensure that your cap will stay attached despite the elements.

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Chimney Waterproofing – Can Water Damage Really Destroy Your Masonry Chimney?

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

crown1 016Here in Cincinnati, I’m sure I don’t speak for myself when I say I have a new respect for hurricanes. We recently experienced hurricane force winds that caused more damage to chimneys than this city has seen in a while. When someone thinks of a hurricane, lots of water comes to mind, and when it comes to chimneys, few things are more detrimental to its life and quality than water damage. Not to mention there are few things more aggravating than the drip, drip, drip of water entering the chimney, resonating through your home and eventually through your very soul… Well, it may not be that annoying but no one wants to have to write a check for a major chimney overhaul due to moisture damage when it is easily preventable.

crown with moss growingWater Damage: A $1 Billion Per Year Problem

This damage comes in the form of staining, loss of insulation value, freeze-thaw damage, deterioration, and ultimately, structural failure. In light of this, I’d like to discuss a few systems, products, and techniques to ensure your family is safe, warm, and dry this hurricane or winter season, whichever you are preparing for.

Masonry chimneys are more prone to water damage than the rest of your home because they extend far above the roofline, unprotected from the elements. Waterproofing is a good idea because it protects the mortar joints from moisture entry and helps a repair last longer.

Waterproofing and Sealers

chimneysaver-buynowAs far as waterproofing goes, Chimneysaver© is a ” Professional Grade ” product we use out in the field. It’s important to know the difference between waterproofers and sealers. ChimneySaver is not a sealer. Sealers and silicone coatings form a water resistant surface film which traps water vapors. If these vapors cannot escape, they will add to the deterioration of your brick.

Your chimney needs to breathe, which is why we use Chimneysaver©. It’s 100% breathable, or vapor permeable, meaning water vapor trapped inside the brick can easily pass through it. This is a non film-forming water repellent that will penetrate and line masonry pores to prevent water from deteriorating the brick.

Visit our web-store   —->  www.FireplaceAndChimneySupply.com

Mortar Joint Repair

crackmagik-buynowBefore you waterproof, make sure all the mortar joints are in good condition. If there’s any cracks or missing pieces of mortar, you may need to do some tuckpointing. If the cracks aren’t severe, you may be able to apply a brushable product called Crack & Joint Sealant. Think of it like a brushable caulk that dries semi-clear. This waterproofs the gaps and cracks in the mortar up to 1/8″.

Waterproofing your masonry chimney can preserve your chimney and prevent water damage and deterioration. A good water repellent normally only needs to be applied once every 5-10 years and will save you the headache of having to replace or rebuild your chimney.

Take time to look at our two ” Ask The Chimney Sweep videos

1-Chimney Leaks

https://youtu.be/hNU-W7YmI5E

2-Leaking Roof

https://youtu.be/7djc7ayYJWs

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